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WINGS Birding Tours – Information

Alaska: The Pribilofs and Utqiagvik (Barrow) in Fall

Vagrants and the Ross’s Gull Migration

Tour Information

Note: The information presented here is an abbreviated version of our formal General Information for Tours to Alaska: The Pribilofs. Its purpose is solely to give readers a sense of what might be involved if they take this tour. Although we do our best to make sure taht what follows here is completely accurate, it should not be used as a replacement for the formal document which will be sent to all tour registrants, and whose contents supersedes any information contained here.

ENTERING THE UNITED STATES: Non-United States citizens need a valid passport and may need a tourist visa. Consult your nearest US Embassy or consulate for details.

MAPS: Maps of Alaska can be studied on line in the collections of the University of Texas.

HEALTH: Alaska presents no major health hazards. Comfort in Alaska is first and foremost a matter of keeping warm and dry. Warm and waterproof clothing and boots, and sturdy, waterproof walking boots are absolutely essential. Please study the clothing recommendations in the printed General Information.

Insects are a nuisance primarily from mid-June to mid-August, so we normally miss the worst influx. An ample supply of repellent and suitable clothing are the best protection.

While large mammals are dangerous, they pose little threat if a few common sense rules are followed.

PACE OF TOUR: Birding in the Bering Sea Islands in fall is generally more strenuous than in spring. While in the spring most of the islands are covered in snow, or very little vegetation making the area that we can cover relatively small, the fall is warmer, with taller vegetation (even lush in the Pribilofs). To dig out vagrant passerines it is usually necessary to walk through patches of vegetation and along the leeward side of hills. It is possible for those who wish to walk less to remain by the road and come out only if we find something, but the more people that walk the more we find. Shorebirds may also require some legwork, although many of the ponds will have nice muddy rings that can be scoped comfortably from a distance. On Saint Paul we have the use of vans, but the areas that we cover are much larger than the boneyards of Gambell, so we may walk five miles or more over the course of a day (in short stretches). The days will be broken up by meals, with an outing after breakfast, after lunch, and after dinner. Since we use only one lodge, a person can easily opt out of any of the excursions if desired.

CLIMATE: Alaska has a varied climate. The Pribilofs are usually 10-20 degrees F cooler than Anchorage, with average daytime highs in September around 47. 

ACCOMMODATIONS: Our Anchorage hotel is a standard, modern hotel.

King Eider Hotel, St Paul, Pribilofs: We will stay in the hotel wing at the airport, a basic but comfortable hallway with 20 rooms and a lounge. Remodels were recently completed and all rooms now have private bathrooms. WIFI is either excellent or absent, depending upon the week.

DRESS: Informal throughout.

TRANSPORTATION: We use a 22-passenger minibus with a driver on St. Paul Island; it is possible that we may have to share with other visitors to the island. Our internal flights are on commercial airlines.

SMOKING: Smoking is prohibited in the vehicles or when the group is gathered for meals, checklists, etc. If you are sharing a room with a non-smoker, please do not smoke in the room. If you smoke in the field, we ask that you do so well away and downwind from the group. If any location where the group is gathered has a stricter policy than the WINGS policy, the stricter policy will prevail.

GENERAL INFORMATION AND CONDITIONS OF WINGS TOURS: Please take a moment to read the General Information and Conditions. This section contains important information about how we conduct tours, e.g., what is included in the tour price, refund and cancellation policies, pace of the tours and other information that will help you prepare for the tour.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: A more complete General Information for Spring Alaska: Gambell and Nome will be sent to each registrant on receipt of their booking. Final information with instructions for meeting the group, hotel addresses, etc., will be mailed about three weeks before trip departure. Other news will be communicated as necessary. If you have any questions, please let us know.

Updated: 02 October 2023